SAN JOSE -– Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Matt Nieto will both miss the Sharks’ Saturday afternoon game against the Rangers, but neither is expected to be out long term, per coach Pete DeBoer.
“I would term them day-to-day, but not available today,” DeBoer said on Saturday morning.
Vlasic is the more concerning of the two injuries, as he’s firmly the club’s best defensive defenseman and has taken his offensive game up a notch this year, too. In 67 games, he has eight goals and 31 assists for 39 points, and his plus-15 rating leads all of San Jose’s blueliners. He was injured on Thursday when he got tangled up with Arizona’s Shane Doan and was seen favoring his right leg, although he was able to finish his shift in the second period before departing.
“Any time he’s out, you’re concerned. He’s a key guy for us,” DeBoer said. “I guess the silver lining, it’s better now than three or four weeks from now. The good news is it’s not long term. He will be back.”
Dylan DeMelo will slot in Vlasic’s spot with Justin Braun for the game against the Rangers, playing for the first time since Feb. 22, although he’s suited up for the Barracuda for several games in that span.
The Sharks are 0-2-1 without Vlasic in the lineup this season when he missed three games from Dec. 5-9 with a lower body injury. Since that time, though, the club has bolstered its defensive depth with the addition of Roman Polak, while DeMelo has progressed nicely in his rookie season.
“I think we’re in a different place than we were then. Our depth is much different than it was then,” DeBoer said. “Our comfort level with our group is much better. What goes hand-in-hand with that, our forward group is much better, too, and much deeper. I think we’re much more prepared to handle that now.”
Nieto is expected to miss more time than Vlasic with an apparent hand injury suffered while blocking a shot on Thursday in Arizona. In 67 games, the third year forward has eight goals and nine assists for 17 points.
“Nieto is probably longer term than Vlasic, but he’ll be back before playoffs, for sure,” DeBoer said.
Tommy Wingels will play for the first time since Feb. 18 when he sprained his shoulder in Florida. Wingels, who has 15 points in 56 games (6g, 9a), has been a healthy scratch for the past two games.
“He’s been champing at the bit to get back in. The nice thing is, we have that depth where we can shove a guy like him right back in there,” DeBoer said.
Martin Jones will start in net against the Rangers.